Although historic Motor Parkway was rendered obsolete decades ago, some stretches of the roadway that have survived the passage of time are slated to become a new destination for outdoor enthusiasts on Long Island.
Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano announced Friday a plan to establish the Motor Parkway Trail—a series of hiking and biking routes that will trace the path of the original Long Island Motor Parkway.
“This is a great example of teamwork between citizens and government that preserves our rich history here on Long Island,” said Mangano during a news conference at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow—one of the places the parkway passed through. He was joined by a group of local environmentalists, preservationists and recreational groups behind the idea.
The first phase of the $450,000 project will be funded by Environmental Bond Act (EBA) monies, with additional EBA funding under consideration. Officials may later allocate another $500,000 EBA funding for the trail, which is currently in the design phase.
The first phase of the plan includes a 1.25-mile span from Carman Avenue to Stewart Avenue.
The Long Island Motor Parkway, built by William K. Vanderbilt in 1908, was the nation’s first highway built specifically for automobiles. By 1926, it stretched from Cunningham Park in Queens to Lake Ronkonkoma.
The parkway was the site of the famous Vanderbilt Cup races. Owners of classic automobiles like those used in the race drove their antique cars to the park to support the announcement.
Stealing the show was the 1909 Alco Black Beast racer, which won the 1909 and 1910 Vanderbilt Cups. In last Sunday’s 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, two-time Indy cup champion Emerson Fittipaldi drove the racer in the ceremonial parade lap.
Not only will the Motor Parkway Trail promote healthy living through the County Executive’s Fit Nassau initiative, but it will also serve as healthy choice for hikers and bikers as well as the chance for future generations to understand Long Island’s rich history, the county executive said.
He added: “Over the years, progress has altered the original route, but the main goal of this vision plan is to establish a plan that will preserve the memory of the Long Island Motor Parkway.”